• Prismatic Park
    Josiah McElheny
    Brooke Kamin Rapaport
    Madison Square Park Conservancy, New York
    Jun 13, 2017 to Oct 08, 2017
    Madison Square Park Conservancy

Josiah McElheny, Prismatic Park, wood, steel, and prismatic glass, 9.5 x 31 x .33 feet (wall); 32 feet diameter (floor); 14 x 11 x 9 feet (pavilion), installed at Madison Square Park, 2017, New York. Collection of the artist. Copyright: Josiah McElheny. Photo: Rashmi Gill.

In Prismatic Park, sculptor Josiah McElheny investigates art and architecture's power to signal a space for community engagement. McElheny situates three prismatic structures in industrial glass on Madison Square Park's central Oval Lawn, reviving utopian ideals from alternative figures in modernist architecture like Bruno Taut (1880–1938), Paul Scheerbart (1863–1945), and Claude Bragdon (1866–1946), who created illuminated public environments for community “Festivals of Song and Light.” Each discrete section (a reflective green prismatic glass and wooden floor for dance, a red and yellow pavilion for poetry, a curved blue wall for music) forms a platform for a series of artists’ residencies in dance, music, and literature. Resident artists from partner organizations (Danspace Project, Poets House, and Blank Forms) will "inhabit" the structures—developing new work, rehearsing works in progress, and offering public workshops—in the context of their work's relationship to urban public space and global activism in parks and squares. McElheny's architectural-sculptural interventions convene communities of culture, expressing belief in architecture's capacity to express democratic idealism for the public sphere.

Josiah McElheny, a 2006 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, is an artist whose work combines a conceptual, research-based practice with material investigation. His sculptures have been displayed at institutions such as the MoMA, New York; the ICA Boston; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (OH); Whitechapel Gallery, London; the Arts Club of Chicago; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Museo de Art Reina Sofia, Madrid. The results of his process are seductive sculptures, evoking a range of modernist utopian and scientific thought. His works have found inspiration in essays by Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), the design concepts of architect Bruno Taut (1880–1938), the experimental fiction of architectural theorist Paul Scheerbart (1863–1945), and the teachings of neo-futurist architect R. Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983). An accomplished glass artist, McElheny trained under master glassblowers in London and Chicago, as well as Jan-Erik Ritzman, of Sweden's eminent Kosta Boda glass factory.

Brooke Kamin Rapaport, director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator, leads Mad. Sq. Art, MSPC's commissioned outdoor sculpture program. She has previously served as a curator at the Jewish Museum and the Brooklyn Museum. Rapaport is a writer and contributing editor to Sculpture magazine; serves on the Board of Socrates Sculpture Park, the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, and Amherst College's Mead Art Museum; and is a member of the Association of Art Museum Curators. She graduated from Amherst, received her MA in art history from Rutgers, and was formerly a Museum Studies Fellow at the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program.

Robin Schatell, the MSPC's director of public programs, has over twenty-five years of experience developing and producing events and festivals for a wide variety of organizations, presenting adventurous new work by emerging and established artists. She has served as managing director of Performance Space 122 and the Ralph Lemon Company, and previously founded the Puffin Room, a multidisciplinary art space in SoHo. Schatell produced Live From Downtown Performance TV!, an award-winning cable television show that promoted NYC's downtown performing arts scene, and served as executive director of the River to River festival. As director of public programming for Riverside Park, Schatell launched the park's Summer on the Hudson, an annual arts and culture festival.

Keats Myer is executive director of MSPC and cofounder and former partner of Pivot Point Consulting, a consulting group dedicated to the institutional growth of nonprofits. Myer previously served as the executive director of the New York–based Children's Museum of the Arts, where she expanded the Museum's budget and audience reach. She was a member of the team responsible for conceptualizing, fundraising, and building the museum at the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and Learning Center, where she served as director. Myer is currently the Board president of the Tamworth Community Foundation.

Edward Janoff, MSPC's director of external affairs, is responsible for community, government, and corporate relations, concessions, and marketing partnerships. Previously, he served as the North Brooklyn administrator for the NYC Department of Parks and Recreations and the executive director of Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn. In this dual role, Janoff oversaw all aspects of maintenance, operations, programming, fundraising, and community coordination for more than forty-five parks and playgrounds in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Prior to that, he worked at the NYC Department of Transportation, helping to build and manage over thirty public plazas and coauthoring the NYC Street Design Manual. Janoff is a graduate of NYU, where he earned a BA in urban design and architecture studies.

Madison Square Park Conservancy's Art Committee is a group of colleagues, critics, and philanthropists who advise the Mad. Sq. Art team on all projects. The committee gathers in New York three times annually to consider future public artwork in the Park. Art Committee members include George W. Ahl III, David Berliner, Dan Cameron, Roxanne Frank, Stacey Goergen, Paul C. Ha, Toby Devan Lewis, Danny Meyer, Ronald A. Pizzuti, Nancy Princenthal, Debra Simon, and Ursula von Rydingsvard.

Madison Square Park Conservancy was founded in 2002. Our mission is to protect, nurture, and enhance Madison Square Park, a dynamic, seven-acre public green space, creating an environment that fosters moments of inspiration. As stewards, we engage the community through our beautiful gardens, inviting amenities, and world-class programming. The Conservancy believes that in an urban setting everyone deserves access to a park that allows for recreation, respite, and reflection.